The Patriotic Alliance (PA) has declared its support for the Democratic Alliance and Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip in the upcoming vote of no confidence in him, scheduled for Thursday.
The startling move, announced in an open letter by PA leader Gayton McKenzie and confirmed by PA councillor in Nelson Mandela Bay Marlon Daniels, effectively means that Trollip could survive the motion, brought by the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Trollip said he had been convinced that "sanity and righteousness would prevail".
"Too many people voted for change to allow a few to undermine their wishes," he said.
McKenzie declares support for Trollip
In an open letter to the ANC, published on Tuesday evening, McKenzie said he had been watching the developments around the latest vote of no confidence with interest.
"We have now watched the latest developments with interest after the call for the removal of Trollip yet again – this time raised by the DA's erstwhile protectors, the EFF."
"We are, however, disappointed with the crude display of racism that has accompanied this, particularly the analogy of cutting the throats of the DA, the threats against white people and the general contemptuous rejection of 'whiteness'."
McKenzie pointed out that no one was sure how the PA would vote.
"After all, we are the ones who lodged the first motion of no confidence in Athol Trollip in November," he said.
The EFF will do anything for headlines
McKenzie said he had not been surprised by EFF leader Julius Malema's comments and blatant racism.
"I am, of course, not surprised by such utterances from the EFF, which has proven itself willing to do just about anything for media headlines and political survival, particularly after their biggest political blunder of having handed power to the DA while professing to be a revolutionary party," he said.
The ANC's silence is deafening
McKenzie also criticised ANC leaders for their silence in the face of the racism displayed by the EFF.
"Your silence comes from your thirst for power in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro. You dare not speak up because Malema will turn on you again and allow Trollip to stay, " he said.
"At what point will you decide to find your voice, ANC, and say he has stepped over the line? If you are okay with someone saying they will be cutting people's throats, how will you react when throats actually do get cut? "
PA will not support racism
McKenzie said, when they had brought the motion against Trollip last year, it had been because they had not agreed with the direction he was taking the metro.
"We cannot support a motion of no confidence against a man, when the only apparent basis for that motion is that the man in question happens to be white. Let's be clear: anyone voting against Trollip on Thursday will be engaging in an act of racism, and the PA will not partake in it even if the EFF will try to dress it up as a punishment over differences about land expropriation," he said.
"So Trollip will be going nowhere on Thursday. Malema and his mad ego might have allowed him to believe he is now leading the ANC. But he doesn't lead the PA. And he certainly will not be leading Port Elizabeth come Good Friday if the Patriotic Alliance has anything to do with it," McKenzie said.
Trollip now likely to survive vote
Currently, the DA has 57 votes in council. Coalition partners the ACDP and Cope takes the number up to 59.
The ANC, which has 50 votes, said it would support the motion. Together with the support from the United Democratic Movement and its two votes and the African Independent Congress and United Front - with a single vote each - the EFF has 60 votes.
Now, with the PA declaring that it intends to support the DA, the votes are tied at 60 each.
In the event of a tie, the speaker of council, Jonathan Lawack, who is from the DA, has the casting vote.
Meanwhile, the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) said on Tuesday talks between parties in the battle for the mayoral position are at a sensitive stage, Lizeka Tandwa reports.
The PEC held a special meeting to discuss resolutions taken by the party's national executive committee (NEC).
Provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukaitobi said that the party's national structures, led by election head Fikile Mbalula, were on the way.
Mbalula is expected to arrive at the metro on Wednesday, before the much-awaited vote of no confidence debate against Trollip.
Ngcukaitobi confirmed that the party would want to form a coalition government with smaller parties in the metro.
"Talks are underway and are at a very sensitive stage... The PEC expressed the view that the ANC should pursue an approach on coalition that puts the interests of the communities first. As the ANC, we want to reiterate that we support the motion of no confidence."